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Lotus Flower

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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His trombone slides its way across paths between notes--always finding spaces between conventionally defined sounds--so one can easily see why Steve Turre would excel in a string-heavy ensemble. And if you want to hear the evidence, here's its best manifestation. With violinist Regina Carter and cellist Akua Dixon on the nominal frontline with Turre, Lotus Flower joins the viscous, busy rhythms of drummer Lewis Nash and bassist Buster Williams with milky melodies that float and froth. "Chairman of the Board" puts on display the bop chops Turre has always made part of his option range, but it's during tracks like Rahsaan Roland Kirk's chamberesque "The Inflated Tear" and the slow blues-swing of "Sposin'" that Turre sinks his feet into harmonically woven, roundly formed musical earth. For those who found Turre's legendary Sanctified Shells his highest creative points, you'll be newly amazed after "Shorty," the set-closer that once again shows how much music can come from air blown through conch shells. --Andrew Bartlett

Review

Shortly before Steve Turre brought this group into the recording studio, he took it to Chicago's Grant Park for an outdoor concert in front of about 5,000 drizzled-on fans, spread across several acres of concrete and dirt. Considering that the band featured the subtle sounds of cello, violin, and sea shells (not to mention a whispered turn through Rahsaan Roland Kirk's "Inflated Tear"), it seemed a recipe for trouble. The crowd was first shocked, then intrigued, and finally transformed into that rarest of all things in jazz - a screaming, frenzied, ecstatically happy bunch. From the jaws of disaster, Turre snatched beauty. Now comes Turre's studio recording, in which he has polished and sharpened that beauty so that it shimmers and cuts like a sword's edge. The trombonist and shellman is joined by his wife, Akua Dixon, on cello; Regina Carter on violin; Mulgrew Miller on piano; Buster Williams on bass; Lewis Nash on drums; Kimati Dinizulu on percussion; and Don Conreax on gong. Not exactly your classic jazz combo, but give Turre credit for putting together a working band that balances the bold and the pretty, that leaps and swings at the same time. Sometimes, Turre uses his strings to simulate a full, orchestral sound, giving the illusion of dense layers and lending his soloists stunning backdrops, but, most of the time, he treats them no differently than the horns. The result is a tasteful Blend of colors. Nowhere is the group's touch better displayed than on Kirk's "Inflated Tear." Turre and his wife play with delicacy and power, while Miller's solo shimmers. Throughout, Turre's arrangements and compositions are dazzling (check out the short but sweet "Passion for Peace") - so dazzling, in fact, that it's easy to lose sight of this album's greatest strength, the bandleader's trombone. Turre can play. Listen to him rip through the "Cherokee" changes on "Blackfoot," then enjoy his chocolate-milk tone on "The Fragrance of Love," and know that you are in good hands.

--- JAZZIZ Magazine Copyright © 2000, Milor Entertainment, Inc. -- From Jazziz

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 9, 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Polygram Records
  • ASIN: B00000HYHW
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #361,445 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Giuseppe C. HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 24, 2003
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Although the art work on this album is retro psychedelic-Zen, reminiscent of a 1970's fusion release, the music is quite mainstream. Turre's employment of violin and cello is less cutting edge than a logical extension of his fondness for Ellingtonian orchestral colors. Regina Carter, moreover, gets ample solo space on "Chairman" (a straightahead swinging blues) and "Sposin'" (done in 3/4) as does Akua Dixon on "Goodbye" (little improvisation but nice tone and technique).
Turre is probably the most successful trombonist since J. J. Johnson--in fact, he's practically the only player of that unwieldy instrument who has managed to lead groups and release records under his own name over the past 10-15 years. His indebtedness to J. J. is in evidence on all of the tunes, though players like Joe Nanton ("Fragrance" is pure Duke with Tricky Sam) and Dickie Wells (dig the vocal effects on "Organ Grinder") are always lurking beneath the surface.
On "Blackfoot," a burner on "Cherokee" changes, he risks it all. J. J. showed that it's possible to adapt the music of bebop to trombone; since then, players such as Carl Fontana and Bill Watrous have tried to make the instrument as lightning fast as Bird's alto saxophone or Diz' trumpet. But the trade-off has frequently been one of sound for speed, with "micro-phonics" replacing the projection of a "true" trombone sound. Turre's solo, while somewhat limited melodically and rhythmically, does not come at the expense of his instrument's inherent brassy brilliance.
This is a set that should appeal to trombonists, string players, and even the occasional and casual listener of mainstream jazz.
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Format: Audio CD
Steve Turre has a great gift for blending unusual instrument line-ups to create sounds that ambush you from left field. In Lotus Flower, it's a classic rhythm section fronted by a decidely unusual trombone, violin and cello. The effect on the opening track is electrifying and whets the appetite for more delights to come. Unfortunately, the rest of the album only occasionally delivers.
The album title and indeed the cover art hold out the promise of a different jazz experience - something transcendent, perhaps? And there are some really interesting tracks that catch the imagination. But on several too many, the sound of the band and the tunes they're playing just double the slick house bands on network chat shows - musically polished, professional and all, but not what I would call enlightening.
Maybe I've been spoiled by Turre's "Rhythm Within" and "Sanctified Shells". The sound of the trombone maestro playing conch shells on some great numbers is what keeps me coming back to those albums time and again. I know Turre can hit the spot for me, he just doesn't hit it much with Lotus Flower.
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This CD is a brilliant peice of work. Turre's use of the string section, expanding the usual conception of what a sextet consists of, adds a dynamic element to the music. Turre really shows that he can hold the front line with his trombone.
Passion for Peace give out a sense of spiritual warmth that I have not felt for a long time.
Most of Turre's solos are of a very high standard except that on Blackfoot. He seems to struggle for ideas repeating phrases too many times.
Only the last track has shells which is a bit of a shame.
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Amazon makes it easy to find obscure releases from lesser known artists. The one-click shopping is easy to use. The item was shipped and received very quickly and arrived in perfect condition.
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